Always Getting Started with Social Media

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When I first began blogging over three years ago, it was completely new to me. There was etiquette to learn, tools to master and people to reach out and connect with.

To be honest, I was sceptical about blogging. I had tracked it as a type of communication for years – reading and being inspired by Seth Godin and the group of expert bloggers at Fast Company – but I could not quite see how it would work, say, at a corporate level.

On a personal level, however, the WordPress and Typepad blogging platforms provided a simple way of publishing regular material on the web – and they were a perfect fit for my objectives – to build a discipline around writing every day.

And so it began.

I started with poetry, but within days, had shifted my focus to websites and storytelling. It was not intentional. My subject matter simply overwhelmed me. I would begin to write creative work and find, instead, that there was something else on my mind. After a month of blogging I asked, Does Anyone Read a Blog. If I remember rightly, I would have had about FIVE readers – and like many bloggers, I became obsessed with web analytics. However, I was already thinking about the nature of blogging and influence, suggesting that not all audiences are created equal:

It reminds me of a quote by Howard Barker (the great British playwright) – "Because you cannot address everybody, you may as well address the impatient" (49 Asides for a Tragic Theatre). This is what sets the web apart from other revolutionary communications platforms – it is both a catalyst for change and the method of transformation.

The idea of transformation is important in social media … and it is something that we easily forget. What I have learned over the last few years is that I must resist the easy options with blogging. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking of blogging as publishing … of seeking readers rather than conversation – dreaming of reach over influence. It is important to stimulate, engage and challenge myself and my readers … after all, there is PLENTY of great content available on the web.

So while measurement is great, reader figures are gratifying and even humbling, the real opportunity is impact. How does YOUR blog change or inspire the people who read it? What do they take away into their worlds as a consequence? As Richard Huntington eloquently explained:

So long as the digital community clings to its obsession with accountability over effectiveness it will remain in the unedifying position of creating engaging brand fluff on the one hand and highly measurable but largely pointless direct response advertising on the other.

It’s important to “get started” with social media – but remember, we are always in a process of getting started – there is always something new to learn. And as this great list of social media case studies shows – while there is some fantastic work being done, there are also plenty of social media mistakes. If in doubt, remember, “change” and “transform”.

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Comments

  1. Absolutely agree Gavin. I feel like I am ALWAYS learning, and I’m even finding my blog is taking a life of it’s own and changing focus as my own personal/professional journey becomes more finely tuned.
    I like what you have to say about reminding ourselves “How does YOUR blog change or inspire the people who read it? What do they take away into their worlds as a consequence?” Blogs that do that, earn my subscription :)

  2. Katie Harris says:

    Another brilliant post Gavin. And I was thinking that even *before* I got to the Richard quote. : P
    I love the idea of always getting started; so true. I think social media, in its constant process of evolution, is a beautiful example of eternally renewable (brain) energy.

  3. The fact that social media is always changing is both exciting and frustrating … I kinda wish it would sit still for a few months so I can corner it :)
    I too are learning some valuable lessons about my blog with regards to content, timing, the right questions to pose to create a conversation etc.

  4. Tim Burrowes says:

    One thing I’ve noticed about most of the Australian blogs that cover media and marketing is that they almost all divide up into two groups.
    The first are those who simply link elsewhere (sometimes helpfully; sometimes well off the pace). Rarely would you add value for your own readers by linking there.
    The second group has something to say themselves – in other words they are the ones that you want to link to.
    Both have their place. Perhaps one starts by linking, then develops a unique voice.

  5. Anne says:

    Thank you for this post, Gavin; it definitely struck a chord.
    Yesterday I asked myself, why am I spending all this time writing a blog? Your post today has reminded me that there are other measures of ‘success’ beyond rankings and traffic.
    And it is true that writing the blog has been a tremendous learning and transformational experience for me. What a great reminder, also, that “we are always in the process of getting started.”

  6. Fantastic blog – something I will share will colleagues and friends.
    The web is great because never has society had a technology that can so easily convert ideas into reality.
    To emphasis your earlier point – one of the reasons why I think social media is so important is because it allows us at work and home to escape the transactional and become transformational.
    Take care,
    Mike Hickinbotham
    Telstra Blogger
    Just blogged – http://tinyurl.com/6mzrz4

  7. kate says:

    Great post Gavin.
    It has literally dawned on me this week the amount of time, effort, brain juice and support required to write a blog that stimulates thinking and creates conversation
    Always good to have something to aim for

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